Key West

8/10/12 around 5pm CDT, just west of Key West

Well we had a glorious day in Key West. It was our first time being there, and we really enjoyed the city a lot. It’s a vibrant place, with only about 25,000 full time residents over 6 or so square miles. It has everything you can ask for – great shopping, an alternative community, folks who are just generally laid back and apparently happy (even when working), and great small-town restaurants. In the portion we went to, anyway, we found no “real” chain restaurants of any kind. Yes, we saw a Wendy’s and a Denny’s, but they are small, non-descript, each tucked into an ecclectic Key West structure. It was fantastic. I was most enthused to learn that the nearest Wal-Mart (aka Freakville to me) was over 120 miles away. This is definitely my kind of place.

The houses, mostly Victorian in nature, were fantastic. So many colors of green, blue, pink, and yellow. Really colors that just make you smile when you see them.

We rode the City Trolley, and it stops at eight destinations throughout the city. It was cool, and inexpensive. You can literally just ride around if you want to. The tour guides are knowledgeable, and oh the places you’ll go! Hemingway’s house, Truman’s little white house, Higgs Beach and the Key West Garden Club (in an old fort), as well as all of the haunts you’ve heard about on TV – Captain Tony’s bar, Green Parrot Bar, Sloppy Joe’s, and of course Margaritaville (the original). You can hop off and hop on, so it’s fun and easy. It’s also inexpensive, which is nice, given how much you can spend on shore excursions.

Speaking of which, we are not really shore excursion people. We like off the beaten path, on-our-own sort of things, so we don’t usually pay a lot for someone else to show us around. This type of tour – where you are simply driven to the vicinity of attractions, but you have freedom to discover them on your own, is the best kind.

We went to the pier just off Higgs Beach, although it’s not actual sand from Key West since it really has no sand as it has the reef 7 or so miles out, which causes no waves inland, thus no sand. I figure it’s still Key West sand, though, since it was on Key West and had been a resident longer than I had!

We went to the Key West Garden Club garden, and it was magnificent. Even being from the South, we still don’t get the cool tropical plants that they do in Florida or the Caribbean. The bromeliads, for example, were huge compared to what we can buy (and keep indoors!) at home. There were Strangler Figs that were almost prehistoric in the way they grow, and the ferns, palms, and cacti were all just gorgeous. Admission is free, but they do accept donations, since it’s all run by volunteers. If I lived there, I would join and volunteer. It’s inside an old fort, which just adds to the ambience. Just really neat, all over, and the docent today was fantastic as well.

We also went to Six Toed Cat Cafe, just a few steps from Hemingway House. Great burger, fries, and the chicken pesto panini was delicious. It was also very reasonably priced, and the setting was quiet and relaxed.

We went to a bar at the marina, just down from Jimmy Buffet’s recording studio, and it was great, as well. This old lady (hey, I am over 40!) even got somewhat hit on by a cutie named Josh from Australia. He was probably wearing beer goggles, but he was nice, and it made me feel young. I wonder if he was a “plant” by the bar staff to try to make me stay, but he and his friends did say they were at the wrong bar as they were trying to meet friends at another bar. So…

We saw the turtle and wildlife rescue place but didn’t go in. We’ll have to do that next time, as Sweetie said I could work there (I LOVE sea turtles) and be a “turtle lawyer” when I pass the bar. I can just picture it now:

“Your honor, my client (pointing to my right), Tommy Turtle, was struck and badly injured by THAT man (pointing to my left) and his boat, when Tommy was merely trying to get some dinner, and that man was driving drunk. My client deserves to be compensated.” …or something like that anyway.

All in all, it was a great day. I ask myself, just as I do everytime I think about what one of our law profs, now a judge, told us when he said he turned down a job offer in Key West to take one in Arkansas – “Why?”. I am sure it was a good decision, but I don’t know that I would have made the same one.

Bon Voyage, Key West, until we meet again.

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